Day 1, in the PGL house...
After a speedy journey to PGL on a rather fabulous coach (it had a TV and even a toilet that worked!) the children set about getting their rooms together and unpacking their belongings. It really wasn't long before each room resembled a bijou home from home with knick knacks adorning the shelves and photographs of adoring parents staring down at their little darlings from the ends of their bed.
The food was judged as very good with little room for improvement by my esteemed judging panel of Gha-Lok, Anes and Harvey. They were so impressed with the cooking that they even asked for more…I feel a song coming on. Alas, we’re all too tired for a rendition tonight so perhaps we’ll save that for tomorrow.
Tonight's evening activity was ‘Ambush!’ Which I can only describe as a chaotic game of group ‘it’ played in near absolute darkness. “Sounds like fun!”I hear you cry…yes, I'm sure I did. Needless to say the children had a whale of a time hiding in bushes, crouching in muddy puddles and generally being as difficult to find as they could.
As we speak the children are busy showering and getting ready for their first night at PGL. I expect many of them will be soon be tucking themselves in bed to contemplate the time difference between Hailsham and Chingford (yes, we were asked) and whether or not the water goes down the plug hole in a different direction…
Day 2, air, land and sea...
Today saw the children take part in a smorgasbord of activities. We had groups take part in raft building (a firm favourite amongst the children every year), groups soar through the sky on the giant swing and another spend some perusing the rather more sedate pursuit of canoeing. All in all its been a splendid day messing around on the lake…well, it's more like a pond – but you get my drift.
After a somewhat restless night, the children started the day with a hearty cooked breakfast to set them up for the day ahead. Some groups started the day with one of my favourite activities to watch – raft building. Using only 6 empty barrels, 6 lengths of rope and 2 poles the children must construct raft on which the whole group can travel across the water on. Having seen the results, and piles of wet clothes outside our cabins, I'm not sure we have the next Bear Grylls in our Year 6 cohort, but they did a pretty good job. Sadly, pretty good doth butter no parsnips and all of our children, with the exception of one, ended getting up incredibly wet. Oh, and cold…it was very, very cold.
A quick shower later and the groups were off again, this time to the Assault Course or Jacob’s Ladder. “Who’s Jacob?”you may well ask. I'd like to know too, answers on the back of a postcard please. You see this Jacob fellow is responsible for designing…you guessed it, a ladder. Except this ladder is essentially tree trunks suspended on chains with ever increasing gaps in between the rungs. The idea is that whilst the first two are relatively easy to traverse, the rest require the support of your team mates to help you climb them. The group who took part in in today certainly recognised the importance of team work in being successful.
After lunch I was fortunate enough to join a group for a game of Aeroball and then run outside just in time to see Sue fly through the air like…like…well like Sue flying through the air, but let me assure you that it was a sight for sore eyes. I can only imagine that those who saw the Wright brothers fly for the first time felt a similar sense of overwhelming pride and…ok I’ll stop. You get the picture. She was of course attached to the Giant Swing along with members of her group.
The evening finished with a game of Wacky Races. Sadly, Dick Darstadly and Mutley were not available but two very enthusiastic PGL facilitators called Joe and Pete were. The children donned their very best weird and wonderful costumes before completing a range of fun team games.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Day 2 in a nutshell. Do be sure to check out the class Twitter accounts (@Infinity_Class6 and @Beyond_Class6) to see pictures of your children throughout their time here. You can also access these by clicking on the words Rebel Mouse that appear on the tree on the left of the website homepage.
Day 3: tall tales and soggy bottoms...
Sadly, I’ll be missing The Great British Bake Off tonight on account of sitting around a campfire singing ‘Ging Gang Gooly’ with the children. It will be a miracle if I don't find who was Star Baker by Saturday, but then again stranger things have happened…One of the stranger things that happened last night was the sound of mooing emanating from the fields behind our cabins. I assume it was a cow of course, but it could have been the sound of a child’s belly rumbling!
On the matter of soggy bottoms the final group took part in raft building and what a sight it was. Children were literally chomping at their bit to throw themselves in the slightly green outdoor lake and take a leisurely swim…well some of them were at least. Nothing can really convey to you reader the sense of satisfaction one gets as you see the raft begin to list and hear the screams of what I will term ‘elation’ - it's almost worth the semi-sleepless nights we endure here.
Some of the other activities on offer today were Zip Wire (another firm favourite amongst the children) as well as problem solving, ‘All Aboard’ and ‘Trapezium’. The latter of these were of course some of the first high wire activities that our children have encountered, needless to say they won't be the last. The joy of being at PGL is of course that the children get to take part in activities that we simply cannot offer at school and that at this age are life-changing. Very few of our children before today could have claimed to have climbed a telegraph pole and flung themselves off the top of it with the aim of catching hold of a trapeze wire. Today, many of your children can say they have conquered fears and overcome obstacles that they never even knew they had – that is the power of PGL and you should all be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.
Tonight's final activity was campfire where the children enjoyed a somewhat traditional sing-song around a roaring camp fire with Oscar and Joe. The children had an amazing time and there wasn't one complaint about them not enjoying it. It may not be the time to reminisce, but it was good to get back to a much simpler form of family friendly entertainment that didn't require electricity. Let’s face it – sitting around an electric heater and watching TV would have been a little disappointing not to mention surreal.
So, there you have it. Today has really been all about tall tales and soggy bottoms. The children are asleep and it's time we all head to bed. Remember to keep checking Twitter throughout the day to keep up with what we are doing.
Day 4: it's the final countdown...
So today was our final, full day of activities at PGL and what a blast we had. The children took part in abseiling, climbing and a range of other thrilling challenges that pushed them to their limits. For the second time this week I'm pleased to say that every child gave it their all and built on their achievements of the previous days. Alas, all good things must come to an end (like this blog) and as we sit outside the cabins under the stars reflecting on this week it is very easy for me to say that for these children it has been a week like no other.
The high wire activities are not only good fun – they also tell us a great deal about the children and allow them to shine in all sorts of ways. On numerous occasions this week I've seen children cheered for reaching the top, children consoled who didn't quite manage it and children congratulated for overcoming personal fears and barriers. PGL isn't just about taking part in adventurous activities. It's about the personal battles children face on the journey – the problems they independently solve and the previously unknown fears they conquer. It's about the friendships they form in the midst of adversity and the empathy they develop in response to the achievements and failures of those around them.
That's it! Enough of the fluffy stuff, let's get down to business because tonight was disco night! Our Year 6 children (and staff) can certainly throw some shapes on the dance floor, shapes that even university educated mathematicians would struggle to name. We had a dance off with another school – needless to say our children's knowledge of urban beats was far superior to that of the more sedate, gentile schools in attendance and they were soon Gang Nam Styled into submission before being dabbed to defeat.
So, that's it. Short and sweet, just like our time here at PGL. There really isn’t much more to report and if I'm quite honest I’ll be glad to get into my room. It's a rather chilly 8 degrees Celsius and we’re still sat outside hoping and praying that next time we check the children will be asleep. Miss Biggs has just informed me that she thinks the biggest benefit to this trip will be that she no longer needs to switch on the heating in her house as she’ll spend most evenings outside in the garden drinking coffee. Let me assure you that your children have gained a great deal more and I'm sure they’ll be bursting to tell you all about it tomorrow.
That's it, the end of the blog for another year! I do hope that you have enjoyed reading all about what your children have been getting up to and do ensure you check out the Infinity and Beyond class Twitter feeds for pictures and witty ‘banter’ (I learned that word tonight at disco).
So it's good night from me, and it's good night from Miss Biggs, Nikki, Sue and Miss King. Goodnight!